The forecast is that growth in sub-Saharan Africa will increase to 5.8 percent in 2015, despite the global economic growth forecast’s revision down to 3.5 per cent. This means both consumers in Africa, and those visiting the continent, will benefit from new opportunities.
Translated into travel speak: tourism to the African continent is on the increase…
Here are 10 travel trends for 2015 that affect South Africans:
1. DESTINATION AFRICA – TRAVELLING HOTS UP (UNDETERRED BY EBOLA)
According to Sitata.com, a site that tracks infectious diseases using an algorithm, visitors to the countries affected by Ebola should bear in mind that: “among the three most affected countries, there are about 20,380,000 people who do not have Ebola.”
Any knock that South Africa has experienced because of Ebola should not have any major effect on tourism. But more importantly, Africa is no longer a destination for overseas visitors only. It is increasingly a holiday destination for other Africans, and South Africa will need to cater for local and cross-continent tourists.
2. AFRICAN-MADE SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS ARE GLAMOROUS
Africans are adopting eco-solutions as a way to show their appreciation and respect for their environment, like Rethaka – a South African female-owned company that produces re-purposed school bags; solar-powered backpacks that double as study lamps at night (see website here if you are curious or would like to get involved).
Marketing these solutions to the huge eco-conscious travel sector, South Africa has a winning formula.
3. PROUDLY SOUTH AFRICAN MEETS ‘HEART ON SLEEVERS’ FOR A WINNING COMBO
The shift amongst travellers to explore the heart of the places to which they travel coincides with the growing trend for Africans to display their cultural identities with wearable expressions of their cultures and beliefs; a celebration of heritage that moves beyond simply buying products made in South Africa.
As South Africans begin producing wearable art, accessories and clothing that expresses their distinctive identity and culture, so their stories will speak to travellers after a more authentic experience.
4. AFRICA TO BECOME THE SURFING CAPITAL OF THE WORLD
The fact that we have always known that beaches like Jeffreys Bay (Jbay), Muizenberg, Buffels Bay and Durbanare top notch surfing meccas, does not mean the rest of the world’s estimated 35 million regular surfers have cottoned on to the idea. Nor is South Africa alone on the hot list.
Sierra Leone, Ghana, Madagascar, Zanzibar and Mozambique are all on local South African tour operator’ssurf adventure itineraries. After all, these countries are but a hop skip and a jump from our shoreline.
5. CITY VISITS ARE FASTEST GROWING MARKET SEGMENT
City trips have boomed by 58 per cent in the last five years, now hogging 20 per cent of the travel market, according to ITB Berlin travel trend specialists. Beach holidays, by comparison, have grown by only 18 per cent. Even touring holidays have increased in popularity (32 per cent).
These trips are supported by the boom in both low-cost flights worldwide and the increase of budgetaccommodation available in cities.
6. THE ‘SHARING’ ECONOMY GIVES NEW MEANING TO ‘LOCAL’ EXPERIENCE
Traditional business travel has taken a knock from the meteoric rise of the sharing (peer-to-peer) economy – experts speak of the movement as having entered its adolescent stage. The sharing economy is a collection of emerging websites that allow people to interact directly with one another in the travel industry – accommodation, transport, food, activities.
Sites like Uber, Lyft, Share a Ride, Camp in my Garden, Kitchensurfing, EatWith, Vayable and GetYourGuide are all new platforms that allow travellers to hire and experience ‘local’ when in town.
7. FOOD COOKED BY A LOCAL YOU DON’T KNOW
Home-cooked meals is one ‘share economy’ player set to take centre stage. Peer-to-peer dining pairs travellers with home cooks who prepare and serve a meal in their own home for holidaymakers looking for an authentic experience. Whilst not mainstream yet, experts forecast rapid growth in this sector.
8. WEB AND MOBILE-BASED TRAVEL SURGES AHEAD
More traditional travel brands are left behind by the new sharing economy that dominates the social media space. The average high-tech traveller leads a ‘digital life’ and looks for travel experience online. The sharing economy emerged, according to ITB-Berlin, because of the gap in the market as more traditional travel industry players reacted too slowly to the demand for social media travel.
Social media holds sway before, during and after a journey. This will only increase as mobile technology advances and ‘wearables’ emerge.
9. WEARABLE MOBILE TECHNOLOGY AND VIRTUAL REALITY UP THE ANTE
2015 is forecast as the year of Apple Watch – on the forefront of the trend for wearable technology. A downloadable App for the watch will double as a boarding pass. Low-budget UK airline, Ryanair, is investigating the Smartwatch technology to help simplify travel.
Virgin Atlantic introduced Google Glass and Sony SmartWatch 2 in April 2014 (as a customer arrives, staff receive personalised information about the individual direct to their glasses or watch), whilst Qantas may partner with Samsung to launch a trial run of virtual reality (VR) entertainment for its premium passengers.
10. CYCLING SET TO SWAMP GOLF TOURISM
The shift to experiential travel (getting more out of your holiday) means that travellers don’t just want to come and take a lot of photos of top tourist attractions. They also want to return home having learnt something, or having been physically active. As many as 6 percent of people plan a holiday that includes sport (ABTA). Recent research by Word Travel Market reveals that cycling holidays are more popular even than golf retreats.
The target market: MAMILs or Middle-Aged Men in Lycra.